K-pop Rising Stars: Oneus seem like veteran idols, but at one-and-a-half years old, they're only beginning
In the short span of time since they debuted, the group has released three EPs and seven singles, with their fourth EP on the way
It's easy to think Oneus have been around for a while, given the K-pop boy group's ability to put on a spectacular, perfectly synchronized show. The group is, however, only a-year-and-a-half old, having debuted under RBW in January 2019 with their debut EP, 'Light Us'. They have since put out a steady stream of content that displayed their stellar vocals and dancing skills, all of which have earned them a massive and loyal following.
Oneus currently boasts a lineup of six members, but unlike most other groups, who either come together organically because the members knew each other prior to the group's formation or are put together by a company after they train together for years, Oneus was built out of members that came from a variety of different training programs. Members Seoho (then going by Gumin), Keonhee and Hwanwoong trained with RBW as part of the second season of the show 'Produce 101' in the first half of 2017. Seoho was then a trainee for RBW on the YG Entertainment survival show, 'Mix Nine', in the second half of 2017 along with fellow member, Ravn. Lee Do also participated in 'Mix Nine', but failed to pass the audition.
The same year, RBW put forward a project titled "RBW Trainee Real Life – We Will Debut" which included Keonhee and Hwanwoong in addition to several other trainees. Later that year, the two members would participate in 'Special Party' with their label-mates MAS. Finally, in 2018, RBW introduced 'RBW Boyz', a team consisting of Keonhee, Hwanwoong, Ravn, Seoho and Xion. Leedo was added later the same year and by June 2018, the group was reintroduced to the world as Oneus. RBW evidently liked the new name, seeing as in September 2018, MAS was redubbed Onewe.
Oneus, the company would later reveal, had multiple meanings. The first symbolized the group's formation, which saw them come together as "one", something the group believes they owe to their fans who began supporting them long before their debut. The second meaning symbolizes the group's hope of bringing people together to create a more united world. A lofty dream, but hardly an unachievable one for a K-pop act.
The group debuted in 2019 with the lead single 'Valkyrie' off their EP 'Light Us', accompanied by a music video that featured gorgeously cinematic shots and some very high production values. They followed the song up with 'Twilight', the lead single off their second EP 'Raise Us' which was released four months later. By June 2019, the group was already announcing their first concert in Japan, '2019 Oneus Japan 1st Live', before they dropped their first Japanese single 'Twilight'. And in September the group came back once more with 'Lit', the lead single off their third EP 'Fly with Us', as well as an announcement that they would be embarking on their first tour in the US titled 'Fly With Us' which kicked off in New York and finished in Los Angeles. And they kept that momentum going till the end of the year with the release of their second Japanese single, '808', which debuted at number one on the Oricon Daily Single Chart with 3,662 copies of the track sold within one day of its release. Within a year of their debut, Oneus had put out three EPs and five singles, held two major concert tours and already set record numbers for themselves in sales. But they weren't stopping there.
2020 was not the year many expected it to be. Beginning with a global pandemic and lockdown and devolving into violence worldwide, the year has not been kind to many. And the music industry probably took some of the hardest hits of all, having to shut down production and cancel all major events. In the midst of that, several new K-pop groups have had to disband owing to their companies being unable to sustain the losses. Oneus kicked off the year with their first-anniversary fan-meeting in January and held their '2020 Oneus Japan 2nd Live <Fly With Us Final>' concert in Osaka in February, right before the world shut down. And it may have seemed like the group that has delivered content steadily without pause may finally take a step back, just when they were getting started.
But the group persevered, appearing on the highly-acclaimed Mnet reality television competition 'Road to Kingdom' in March. They also dropped 'A Song Written Easily', the lead single off their single album 'In Its Time'. And in June, they released their song from the 'Road to Kingdom' finale, 'Come Back Home', after it placed fourth overall. With their soon-to-be-released fourth EP 'Lived' and its lead single 'To Be or Not To Be', Oneus will have built a catalog that seems almost impossibly large for a group so early in their career. With each song racking up millions of views on YouTube and boasting an equally impressive number of streams, it seems like Oneus has already cracked the code of what makes them special. But what is truly remarkable about this group is that they really are just at the starting line, and it will be interesting to see how their sound and style grows from here on out.